Hungry like something that’s not a wolf.

It’s amazing how a rainy — okay, thunderstorm-y — day can so thoroughly impact one’s mood. All I want to do is be home with comfort foods like mac & cheese, watching Bollywood movies all day while the rain pounds against the windows. Sadly, that is not an option. So, instead, I’m going to drink dishwater-flavored coffee from the office’s Flavia machine and keep the TV on low volume while the rain pounds against the windows.

I haven’t done a recap of my recent trip to L.A., but one of the significant things from that trip was that I finally got on the sushi train. We went to The Geisha House, an uber-trendy sushi place in Hollywood, that made me surmise that the more trendy and upscale you are, the less lights you have on in your establishment. We had to ask for another candle to help us read menus, and I wound up twisting around to the little artsy twinkle lights behind my banquette. And oy, did the waiter have attitude about our lack of ability to see in the pitch darkness. At any rate, I got their “Cherokee” roll, with salmon, avocado, cream cheese, and asparagus with a tempura coating. I did actually enjoy it quite a bit. So much so that I’ve returned to the city with a yen for sushi and I had a salmon avocado roll from Washoku Cafe on 37th between 5th and 6th for lunch on Friday. I’m not exactly an expert on sushi yet, obviously, but Washoku’s prices are remarkably reasonable for the lower edge of Midtown and the salmon tasted fresh. I’m also hopelessly addicted to wasabi and candied ginger.

Another recent experience was a relatively new Australian-themed bar in Kips Bay, Van Diemen’s, which earns automatic points from me for having my “diet beer” Amstel Light on draft. Their drink specials are pretty good as well. Their menu is pretty standard American bar & grill fare with a few Aussie-themed dishes thrown in as well. The day I was there, I wasn’t particularly hungry, so I really want to go back and fully appreciate the Moroccan Chicken Salad Wrap I had and try some other things. T. had their Aussie Sliders, which she really seemed to like.

Then there’s Claret, a wine bar that opened in Sunnyside a few months back. As one might expect, it has a really, really decent wine list with a good range of both whites and reds from California, Chile, Italy, France, South Africa, and Australia. They had a Pinotage so, naturally, I had to have that. My only complaint, and I guess it IS a major one, is that their cheese and meat plates are a rip-off. For $12, you can choose three items…and they bring them out on a long rectangular platter. The presentation is lovely, but once you look at the plate you realize how skimpy the offerings are. There’s crackers, a few pieces of French bread, and really barely enough cheese and meat to warrant the price tag. In comparison, Riposo 46, a wine bar in Hell’s Kitchen I also visited recently, has more expensive wines but they do NOT skimp on the food.

And since I’m over in the area, I must mention a surprise find: The Hourglass Tavern. It’s literally a hidden gem on the bustling, busy Restaurant Row, because I can’t even tell you HOW many times I’ve walked past it without even really registering its presence. It’s under new management and currently in “soft open” mode, as they continue to refurbish the place and make it their own. Like all of the places on that stretch of 46th, it has a prix fixe menu. You get salad or soup, an appetizer, a main dish, and then coffee and dessert. Their range of dishes is really quite diverse and my three friends and I all got very different things and were each happy with our orders. The place itself is a charming, three-story restaurant. Each floor seats about 20 people and has a really intimate feel.

God, now I really want to eat something!

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